Plateau Surveys and Mapping

Much of the conservation efforts in India have been directed towards forests; and in this process some habitats remain neglected like the plateaus (both coastal and high-altitude). Goa exhibits a wide range of habitats; and the Chorla region of Goa have habitats ranging from moist-deciduous forests to high-altitude plateaus. Locally known as sadas, these rocky plateaus are found in several pockets of Chorla, much of which are unexplored and some not even discovered! Though they may visually seem as life-less, they in fact bustle with floral and faunal diversity, many of which are specialized to live in crevices and depressions of the rocks and along the slopes. An attempt to protect these floral and faunal-rich habitats led to Mhadei Research Center exploring and documenting these plateaus.

The first step in doing this was identifying the various areas where such habitats occur. Since they are often considered as œbarren-waste land, the locals do not associate much importance with it. Once the areas have been identified through local informal interviews and exploratory surveys, they are then marked and mapped. The GPS coordinates of the entire plateau are recorded and mapped, while opportunistic surveys in the plateau give an idea of the fauna present in the area. The various plant and tree species are also identified and noted. Presence of secondary evidence (like scat, hair, snake skin) contributes to the understanding of how animals use this habitat. In addition, the various threats to this habitat are identified like mining, quarrying, settlements, firewood collection, over-grazing, tourism, fires etc. A detailed checklist developed jointly by various researchers in this field helps the on-site team to prepare a summary of the status of the plateau.

Faunal species found in the sadas- Gaur (Bos gaurus), Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus), Black naped Hare (Lepus nigricollis), Indian Porcupine (Hystrix indica), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Rodent species, numerous reptiles and amphibians etc.

Floral species in the sadas include- Impatiens spp, Eriocaulon spp, Lepidagathis spp, Smithea spp, Habernaria spp, even at time members of the ground orchid family, many ephemeral flush vegetation etc. The region also has rich and diverse microflora.